SANTIAGO: Chile plans to spend US$31 million to build three new centers to monitor volcanic activity.

National Geology Service director Alejandro Vio on Saturday said the country has 122 active volcanoes, but only eight are closely watched.

Mining Minister Santiago Gonzalez says the new centers will open within five years and employ 40 experts monitoring 43 volcanoes.

Located along what is known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, Chile is home to about 500 volcanoes that have erupted in the last 2,000 years.

A recent eruption at the Chaiten volcano in southern Chile nearly destroyed a nearby town and displaced 4,500 people.

Activity at the Llaima volcano now has four towns on maximum alert.